Do dreams have a purpose?

Do you happen to remember your dream from your last nights’ sleep? Or a dream from a couple months ago? Or one that keeps reoccurring? Maybe a nightmare?

We all dream. We sometimes even day dream. Have you ever been sitting in class and completely space out and start dreaming; picturing a whole scenario in your head and then quickly realizing you’re totally lost in what the teacher is saying and you’re asking yourself why on earth you were just thinking about that specific thought? Well I have, and I am curious as to what makes me do so.

I am a big believer in dreams. I’m always amazed at how dreams can be sweet, scary, upsetting, or wishful. Like we are processing information in our sleep, but the dreams don’t always match up to how we felt when we went to sleep. Maybe subconsciously we are sorting things out in a different way. I have noticed that before falling asleep my mind tends to wander and when I wake up, I have found that I had dreamt about what I was thinking about before falling into my REM. Especially when I am stressed about something, I dream about the situation I am stressed about, which usually end up in pretty embarrassing or traumatic situations.

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I also tend to think there is a hidden metaphor in dreams; something in your subconscious that is a reality. Dreams can be problem solving. I believe we dream about things that are either troubling us or that we are trying to work through or understand. For example, sometimes we may place people in settings we wish they were in. Dreams can also make you remember something or someone you’ve pushed aside. Dreams are your own “reality.”

From a scientific point of view, dreams are a physiological process. Current theories suggest that dreams are the body’s way of “rebooting” the brain. In essence, the purpose of dreams is to get rid of the “garbage” that is cluttering the mind and therefore allowing the brain’s complex chemistry to stabilize. Researchers have been studying dreams forever, but with new technological advances, more conclusions have been made. According to Scientific America, the brain functions that operate while we are dreaming are exactly the same as those that function while we are alert and recalling the previous night’s dreams. Some people keep a dream book and journal next to their bed, so when they wake up they can immediately write down their dreams and analyze them. Others are unable to remember their dreams so they don’t put a lot of weight into them, but does that mean that they didn’t dream? Are those who are able to remember their dreams not in a true deep sleep? Outside factors, such as exercise, alcohol, hormones, etc. are all a part of your sleep cycle. When thinking about whether dreams actually have a purpose, all these questions and ideas play a role.

Sources:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-behind-dreaming/

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6 thoughts on “Do dreams have a purpose?

  1. Anna Strahle

    I have noticed that whenever I am stressed I have dreams that are also stressful, but not necessarily about the same topic. Often, I find myself having dreams that I am being chased or attacked. I looked into what this means, and I found that it is because I am trying to run away from the problem I am facing. Also, the article explains that it is an indicator of my personality dealing with large issues. Rather than encountering the problem and opposing it, I try to avoid it. To be honest, I think that this article is right because when I have a big test coming up, I find myself doing anything else than coming to terms with the fact that I need to study. I will procrastinate by doing the dishes even. If you find yourself experiencing the same dreams you can find the full article below:
    http://dreammoods.com/cgibin/chasedreams.pl?method=exact&header=dreamid&search=chaseintro

  2. jks5601

    I think you did a really great job with your blog post. When I was younger I would always tell my brother about my bizarre dreams and he would just think I would be making these things up when I would mention that I would have a flash back or deja vu. It was pretty interesting knowing that dreams are a way of clearing all the garbage that is in the mind and it helps to stabilize it. You did a Great job.

  3. Margaret Eppinger

    I find dreams really fascinating, which is what drew me to this blog post, and I am definitely guilty of daydreaming pretty much all the time. I also tend to have vivid dreams at night, so I connect with some of the things mentioned in this post. I think the “decluttering” theory is really interesting, like the dreams are almost a way of getting rid of all the garbage hiding in your subconscious. However, I would like to know about those dreams that just don’t make any sense in the context of your life, such as ones that are completely fantasy and not rooted in reality at all. I would have liked to see some more studies and research in your post that try to explain some of the theories behind dreams because I find it all very interesting and I’m sure a lot of people do as well.

  4. Kyle Thomas Finnerty

    I really enjoyed thus blog post because I dream a lot about lots of different things too. Sometimes random and sometimes eerily connected to what is going on in my life at the moment. I am sort of a believer that sometimes dreams can have meanings. Even if not, they are still an incredible function of the human mind. Here’s an article on common dream symbols and their meanings to check out.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dreamscloud/meaning-of-dreams_b_4504512.html

  5. Melanie Dawn Weltner

    Very interesting hypothesis! I have often found myself wondering the same things especially questioning why I have the dreams that I do and if there is an underlying meaning to them. From a lot of research that I have done on my own time outside of this class regarding this topic, it seems to me between all the evidence and experiments that we often times dream of things that we had a thought about during the day even if it was small thought. For example, one day I was walking around and saw something that reminded me of an old friend and that night I had a dream where they were a part of it and so were places we enjoyed together as children. Even though they only crossed my mind for a second, or so I thought, they actually subconsciously were still on my mind which in turn proves to relate to the hypothesis or your blog that dreams are actually your subconscious thoughts coming to life. Dreams are one thing I hope we will one day be able to further comprehend and maybe even figure out a device to record them. Now that’d be a real step forward in science and psychology.

  6. Samantha Francesca Sichenze

    Dreams have always intrigued me. For some reason, whenever I have a big test the next morning, I’ll have a dream that night that I failed it. It probably has to do with me studying or worrying about it right before I went to sleep. My friends always say that if someone is in your dream, that means that they were thinking about you before they fell asleep. I don’t think that’s true because I’ve had dreams about Zac Efron and I can guarantee he wasn’t thinking about me before he fell asleep. The other thing that interests me is the meaning behind dreams. Can they be a warning? When I was a freshman in high school I had a dream that all my teeth fell out, which usually means death for someone in the future. I was so scared when I woke up because I was afraid that someone I loved was going to die. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened. In this article, http://dreamstop.com/what-do-dreams-mean/, it tells you about the messages dreams can bring to your life. After reading your blog, I’m going to start keeping track of the dreams I can remember in my phone. I want to see if it will foresee anything in my future.

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